I was having a nice shower this morning, when I started thinking about how the audiophile society would develop in the future, and how sound in general would change over time.
I wanted to start this thread up so everyone could share their thoughts about general TRENDS that are going on in the world of audio, and what that means for its future. I do not mean technological marvels in an of themselves, but maybe how these would affect the audio industry as a whole -- I think things will become more clear when I tell you all about how I think things will end up becoming.
So I honestly think that at the rate technology is developing, you will be able to achieve near perfect audio playback (maybe even reference quality) from cheap earbuds or headphones in the future; just think we have earbuds like the DUNU 1000s and the GR07s right now which offer unprecedented bang for the buck, but in the future we will have even more bang for the buck earbuds and headphones. What I think this means is that at a certain level, there will be little that we can actually innovate when it comes to sound quality; there is only so far that one can effectively replicate a recording when it comes to audio playback. Of course, then the focus may turn back to recording material to get the most lifelike recordings, but that is another discussion :). Regardless, what this means is that the distinction between pure reference audio quality will probably be blurred between different phones because they will all be so darn close to the real thing.
With that in mind, I think that at a certain point the goal will change from flat frequency to the most interesting sound signature. This keeps uniqueness in each headphone/ earbud and offers the choice which allows a consumer to choose one company over another. Yet it seems to me that one can change this signature through EQ, and thus what unique ability would a good earbud/ headphone offer? I think its the ability to change the sound signature in specific ways -- and of course each in its perfection, because EQing by yourself doesn't always lead to the best results. Thus companies that are investing in technologies to change the sound signature of their earbuds/headphones are probably doing the right thing for the future -- the Shure se846's replacable filters come to mind.
But these are just my thoughts.